At the turn of this century, Xerox was in trouble. The competition was offering cheaper products and new technology was eroding customer demand for its products. Stock prices skid more than 90% from June 1999 to December 2000.
But then Xerox began reviving itself, aggressively reconfiguring its core business, simplifying product lines and outsourcing core functions. Cash flow became positive and stable.
But Xerox wasn’t done making changes. At the same time it was repositioning its core business, the company began experimenting with new service lines and bought Affiliated Computer Services for more than $6 billion.
By 2012, Xerox was hitting $21 billion in revenue.
Scott D. Anthony shares this story in his new book, “Dual Transformation: How to Reposition Today’s Business While Creating the Future,” which he wrote with Clark Gilbert and Mark W. Johnson.
Anthony says Xerox is an important example of what companies can do to thrive when their industry is being disrupted. But perhaps the real kicker to this story is this: Xerox is going to need to do it all over again.
That’s the lesson for any business wanting to survive in today’s fast-paced environment, Anthony says. Survival depends not only on repositioning the core business while also creating a new separate growth engine – but also being prepared to do it over and over again.
“That’s the new normal,” he says.
Those who don’t follow such a strategy will end up like businesses such as Kodak and RIM that were buried by disruption, Anthony says.
While Anthony says the book addresses many of the steps leaders need to take, he says it’s also important that employees “in every nook and cranny” of an organization been seen as a critical piece in helping such a strategy be successful. Their input, he says, is important for spotting signs that companies may need to change.
“Employees can be a great early warning system for disruption. You tell them to keep their eyes open and ears tuned, and they can pick up on faint signals that new competitors are emerging or customer preferences are shifting,” Anthony says.
At the same time, these workers must be educated that change will be (read more here)